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Marines from Dubois, Pa., and Marietta, Ohio, killed in Nevada training blast

| Thursday, March 21, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
HANDOUT
U.S. Marine Corps handout photo dated June 17, 2010 shows Marines from Combat Engineer Platoon, Marine Wing Support Squadron 473, blowing a hole in a fence during training at the Hawthorne Army Depot, Nevada. REUTERS/U.S. Marine Corps/Pfc. Nana Dannsaappiah/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: MILITARY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS

Lance Cpl. Josh Taylor and Pfc. Josh Martino grew up, say those who knew and loved them, wanting to be one of “the few, the proud, the Marines.”

Joshua M. Martino, 19, of DuBois, Clearfield County, and Joshua C. Taylor, 21, of Marietta, Ohio, were among the seven Marines killed Monday when a mortar shell exploded at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada and sent shrapnel flying into troops during a training exercise. Eight others were injured.

“Josh's lifelong aspiration was to become a Marine,” said Martino's brother, Tony Perry, 37, of the Moshannon area of Centre County. “He took an interest in that at an extremely young age, and when he was in high school, he went to recruiting meetings and various training exercises and whatnot.

“He graduated from (DuBois) High School in June and enlisted in July.”

Nobody can remember Taylor talking about doing anything else either.

“Josh wanted to be a Marine since he was about 5. That was the only thing he talked about, all he ever wanted to do,” said Taylor's grandfather, Larry Stephens, 62, of Lowell, Ohio. “He never said why. He was just a gung-ho Marine.”

Taylor, a 2010 graduate of Marietta High School, committed to the Marines before his senior year and was in boot camp a month after graduation.

He served two deployments — one to Afghanistan and another to Kuwait — and was preparing for a second deployment to Afghanistan.

Martino and Taylor, both members of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force from Camp Lejeune, N.C., had undergone mountain training in California before going to Hawthorne, Nev., a town steeped in military tradition, calling itself “America's Patriotic Home.”

Officers from Camp Lejeune are in Nevada, trying to determine what caused the mortar shell to explode in its firing tube. The accident prompted the Pentagon to restrict the use of the weapons until an investigation can determine their safety, officials said.

Perry said the accident occurred on what was to be Martino's last day of training in Hawthorne before coming home for Easter.

He described Martino as a talkative former high school athlete and accomplished turkey and deer hunter who planned to marry his high school sweetheart before his unit deployed to Afghanistan in November.

Taylor was planning to marry his high school sweetheart, Abbey Malone, in May, said her father, Keith Malone, a minister at the Winding Road Church of Christ in Parkersburg, W.Va.

As proud as Taylor was to be a “Devil Dog” Marine, Keith Malone said, “You could never meet a nicer, more respectful young man. He was very devout in his faith and very devoted to his mother and family, my daughter and the Marines.”

Taylor also is survived by his mother and stepfather, Jennifer and Robert Collins of Marietta; three sisters; and a brother.

Martino is survived by his mother and stepfather, Karen and James Perry of DuBois; his father, Vincent Martino; and two other brothers.

Also killed were: Cpl. Aaron Ripperda, 26, of Highland, Ill.; Lance Cpl. David P. Fenn II, 20, of Polk City, Fla.; Lance Cpl. Roger Muchnick, 23, of Fairfield, Conn.; Lance Cpl. Mason J. Vanderwork, 21, of Hickory, N.C.; Lance Cpl. William Taylor Wild IV, 21, of Anne Arundel, Md.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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